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How to Break a Bridge

by Threnody


London Bridge is broken down,

Falling down, falling down.

London Bridge is falling down,

My fair Baby.


I could talk about London and what is happening there, but it doesn't matter anymore, as I only remember it by the ash that drifts through the air once and awhile. We don't even mind it nowadays as it has begun to look like snow, and we miss snow. I would rather tell you about the countryside and the pretty little house that we found on a hill. It has cleanly cut green grass that tickled our bodies as we rolled around in it like it was money. Lily said that and it made me laugh because I thought of you and how rich and happy I know you'll be once everything settles down and you grow up big and strong. Anyways, about the house. It's so adorable, something I know you'll like once you open your eyes. It is small and triangular and trimmed with white that looks like clouds against an eggshell blue. It has three windows that are illuminated by candles. There was a woman in there but don't worry, she's not there anymore. Henry got rid of her for us. They buried her in the garden out back, underneath some tomato plants that will do much better now that she's there.

They said we could stay here for awhile because they weren't around. That's why I left London with you. I guess I should tell you about London now, there's no use hiding it from you. I covered your ears so you couldn't hear the moans of those things as they tried to break into our car as we swerved around all those other cars that didn't work any more and were crashed into trees and other people. I couldn't let them leave their blood all over the leather seats. I wish they would just wake up and stop gnashing their teeth and clawing at doors. David says they're not dead at all, even though Lily thought they were. I don't know who to believe because they look like they're falling apart, with their stuffing showing through their seams, yet they walk around and make noises and eat a lot. Mrs. Rimbaud ate your Daddy. I covered your eyes as she tore through his arm. He yelled at us to get away and I ran and ran while, through the ripped screen door, he bled on the couch and tried to shoot her with his Wetherby that was really for killing deer, not humans. I think he missed but I was too afraid and I was worried about you. I didn't have time to grab your stuffed bunny from your cradle, but I made you a new one. Henry found it in the woods and we ate the stuffing but I got to keep the outside. There's no more blood and I sewed it back up with sawdust. It's starting to smell and fall apart, so I suppose I should get you a new one. I'll ask Henry. Maybe he can get you a bear next time.


Build it up with silver and gold,

Silver and gold, silver and gold,

Build it up with silver and gold,

My fair Baby.


I know it's been awhile and I couldn't sit with you and rock you like I used to do. You were funny today; instead of calling me "Mommy," you called me "Hannah." That made me smile because I don't know where you heard my name from. Everyone around here calls me "Crazy." Henry is trying to take you away from me, saying it's unhealthy for me to keep you and that you're wasting time and resources. I don't believe that. However, he got a frightening look on his face and kicked over your basket while you were sleeping. I told him I got rid of you, but I really had to hide you in the barn that is by the house which is really much better for you. The hay is warmer than the sheets we found in the house and there are birds in there to sing to you. I pretend that I'm sad because you're gone, but inside I just smile because you're still alive and you're a secret, which makes you even better. I used to think that pretending was the same as lying, but now I think it's just different way to deal with the truth. I have to go, but you should pretend you are back at home, safe and sound and I will pretend everything is fine.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,

Stolen away, stolen away,

Silver and gold will be stolen away,

My fair Baby.


I haven't been able to see you in a week and I was afraid you would have gotten restless and left me. But I'm so happy to see you here. Everyone back at the house is panicking because they see a bunch of them coming over the hill. The air smells like what the city used to smell like; cottage cheese, lettuce, meat, and milk...after being left in the sun for awhile during a picnic. I guess it's worse than that, but I like the thought of those things more than the thought of putrid flesh falling off bones and bloated corpses that explode on the streets and leave thick tears of blood running down everyone's faces. I can hear someone outside the barn. I don't want to leave you here because I think the things from the city are coming towards us. I am carrying you out of the barn now, but I can't find my way back to the house. The smell is nauseating and all I can see are shadows moving in the dark and the black, black sky hanging over us like it's attached to fraying ropes. The hands on my shoulders are not Henry’s or Lily’s or David’s or your Daddy’s or anyone else's. There are so many of them and they're cold and wet and leave slime all over me and you. They pull at my hair and draw me to their faces like they're trying to speak to me. Once I can't stand anymore I'll cover you up so they can't get you, I promise. I love you baby.

~ ~ ~


"That was a close one. I thought they were headed for the house, but they're just swarming around that barn. Maybe there are some cows left in there or something?"

"I don't think so...I thought Hannah checked last week. Remember, when she went to get rid of that thing."

"Come on Henry, I can't believe you made her leave her doll in the woods. She loved it!"

"Oh please Lily, Hannah is absolutely insane. It wasn't healthy for her to carry around a doll and pretend like it was her child. She's a grown woman who just has to accept that her real baby's dead and get on with life. The rest of us have managed that much!"

"Be nice! I heard her husband shot her baby, and tried to shoot her too. You have to cut her a break."

"We've all gone through something. There's no use in pretending things are any different than they are, they only end up hurting more than they need to."

"You're cold, Henry. Anyways, she's probably upstairs sleeping. I'll go wake her up and tell her we're safe for now, but we should move on as soon as we can."

"Whatever. And I'm not cold. I simply accept the truth. Is that so wrong?"




God will keep us safe all night,

Safe all night, Safe all night

God will keep us safe all night,

My fair Baby


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Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:01 pm
UFO wrote a review...



(sorry for reposting this. I forgot to click the review button and can't edit the original)

This is good, and well written, though I have a few nit-picky things here and there. There are a ton of run-on sentences. Go back through and fine comb the thing, If you use the words 'and' or 'but' in your sentence more than twice, its probably a run on. There were plenty of them so I won't post them all.

I like the idea. I think there are a few parts that confuse me. I don't like that the narrator says "i wont tell you about london" and then in the next paragraph she does exactly that. I like that she was in the barn outside of the family when the monsters or whatever they are arrived, but then it suddenly takes a twist toward a scene of pure dialogue that kinda makes no sense >.> I don't like that after such a good narrative.

How is the doll a waste of resources? If it actually WERE a baby then I'd see it, but if it's a doll than the person wouldn't have actually said something like that. But since it's a doll, her baby is dead and that means that half the story is left untold. Why did the father try to shoot it? Was this a twist for the sake of having a twist? It was just all confusing to me.

The tone was magnificent right up until she left the barn during the swarm and then it just kinda crashed and burned for me... I'd like to see a revamped version where it clarifies the shooting, etc; or you could just leave that part out. :) Good stuff though. You're an excellent writer.

(Completely off topic) Are they Zombies? It sounds like Zombies, but its not clear, though I kinda like it that way. I just wanna know if it's Zombies in your own head as the writer. You don't have to write that part in.




Threnody says...


Hi! Thanks for the review, it was very helpful. I definitely had it in my head that they were zombies or some sort of diseased people. Also, a lot of people seem to be confused about the father. Hannah is a very unreliable narrator. She used to have a real baby who was shot by her husband when "Ms. Rimbaud" broke into their house. She was traumatised enough that she twisted the events in her head and picked up a baby doll and replaced it with her dead baby in her head. I guess that wasn't very clear... ;) And also, maybe I should think of something different for Henry to complain about besides "wasting resources." Anyway, thanks for the review!



Master_Yoda says...


Threnody, it's clear that she that she was using the doll to mentally replace her dead baby. What was unclear was that her husband shot the baby as a response to the zombie arrival. They look like two independent threads and you can't expect the author to connect them.



Threnody says...


I understand the confusion, I was just stating my intentions with the knowledge that my readers were having trouble understanding them. ;)



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Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:00 pm
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UFO says...



This is good, and well written, though I have a few nit-picky things here and there. There are a ton of run-on sentences. Go back through and fine comb the thing, If you use the words 'and' or 'but' in your sentence more than twice, its probably a run on. There were plenty of them so I won't post them all.

I like the idea. I think there are a few parts that confuse me. I don't like that the narrator says "i wont tell you about london" and then in the next paragraph she does exactly that. I like that she was in the barn outside of the family when the monsters or whatever they are arrived, but then it suddenly takes a twist toward a scene of pure dialogue that kinda makes no sense >.> I don't like that after such a good narrative.

How is the doll a waste of resources? If it actually WERE a baby then I'd see it, but if it's a doll than the person wouldn't have actually said something like that. But since it's a doll, her baby is dead and that means that half the story is left untold. Why did the father try to shoot it? Was this a twist for the sake of having a twist? It was just all confusing to me.

The tone was magnificent right up until she left the barn during the swarm and then it just kinda crashed and burned for me... I'd like to see a revamped version where it clarifies the shooting, etc; or you could just leave that part out. :) Good stuff though. You're an excellent writer.

(Completely off topic) Are they Zombies? It sounds like Zombies, but its not clear, though I kinda like it that way. I just wanna know if it's Zombies in your own head as the writer. You don't have to write that part in.




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Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:01 pm
Trinity9001 says...



I really liked this story. It reminded me of something that would be on the twilight zone




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Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:46 am
StoryWeaver13 says...



This piece has already been reviewed out the wazoo, so I'll just say that this is brilliantly deranged.
Keep writing,
StoryWeaver




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Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:08 pm
Rydia wrote a review...



Hello dear! Sorry it's taken me absolutely forever to get to this but I'm finally a bit more settled after my holiday so review here I come!

Specifics

1. I love the use of the rhyme interspersed throughout, that's really effective. I wonder though if you shouldn't keep the first line as 'London Bridge is falling down' rather than broken down. For me it would have the same meaning and work just as well. If you do keep broken down though, you should change the lines that follow to breaking down because it's really jarring to have the rhyme only half warped when it relies so much on that repetition.

2.

I could talk about London and what is happening there, but it doesn't matter anymore, as I only remember it by the ash that drifts through the air once and awhile in a while.
I don't know if you changed it on purpose, but it's very strange to read it like that. Keep idioms as they are unless you're making a clear point or play on words by changing them around.

3. I'm not sure about the sudden decision to talk of London. I don't actually care about London and you've drawn my attention away already, I'd sooner just hear about what's going on where they are now. If you want to talk of London, do it, but don't set it up as if you don't intend to. Perhaps you could make it smoother by presenting it as if she's moving on to tell the child about his/ her father, then you can have the explanation of him having been eaten and drop in somewhere: 'I guess I told you about London afterall'. I think that would be much more chilling.

4. I love the understated tone of this and the part about the bunny was darkly hilarious. Good work! However, the bear is taking it too far. That goes from being terrible but funny to just being a joke. The idea of giving a stuffed bear to the child takes away any slither of reality or seriouness and undermines the gore and horror of the scene. Replace it with Squirrel perhaps.

5. I'm not sure if you want those quotation mark around the names. They're distracting and not strictly necessary.

6.
I know it's been awhile a while and I couldn't sit with you and rock you like I used to do.
Maybe no 'do' on the end? I think that would read better.

7. How is the 'child' wasting resources. This stumped me somewhat as until now I'd imgined the child was dead and I've read on and am right but I questioned myself for a moment. I think you need to tag on another line here. Maybe something like: 'He took away your blanket so I gave you mine.'

8.
I used to think that pretending was the same as lying, but now I think it's just different way to deal with the truth.
I don't like this line or the few that follow because they manifest too much self realiation and lessen the effect of Hannah's instability.

9. I'd suggest ending it where Hannah's point of view ends. The other characters are of little interest to us and we gathered enough about the baby being dead/ not real to not need the explanation. A touch more mystery would actually be nice. Plus the voices sound very forced and very over stated.

Overall

The tone and descriptions in this piece are excellent and I only really have fault with the ending. It makes for a strong short and Hannah's mind-set was chillingly interesting. This little glimpse of tragedy worked really well.

If you did want to do more with it, you could add in the other survivors and show us some dialogue between Hannah and them, but stick to her point of view. That's where your hook is.

Sorry again for the lateness,

Heather xxx




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Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:28 pm
Master_Yoda wrote a review...



Hello Threnody,

Here is your requested review.

The star that I gave you is for the story from Hannah's perspective. That part was very interesting to read, and I was intrigued all the while. It progressively draws us into a very safe sense of familiarity with Hannah as a character, and her relationship with her child. Her story is positively haunting.

As regards the first part, I will only make one suggestion: your narrator should not contradict herself. It looks very amateurish. She opens her story by telling her child that she will not tell her about London because of its futility, but almost immediately afterwards proceeds to tell her child of London. "because there's no use hiding it."

If she is going to tell her child about London, she must not pretend that she won't. Her change of heart jarred me incredibly as I read. But although that jarred me, I kept reading because I was intrigued to see what you would create.

And then, in a way I didn't think possible, you managed to take what you had built, and throw it all away as soon as you left Hannah's story. Not only did you destroy the magnificent picture of Hannah and implement a massive info-dump, but you confused the heck out of me. And for what? A little gimmick of a twist?

Let me first explain my confusion. I was under the impression that monsters/aliens/things had overrun London. I was also under the impression that the child's father had died to save Hannah and the child. At the end, I don't know what's happened.

It seems like there are in fact "monsters/aliens/things" because of what is swarming the barn. If this is true, however, then you have left half of the story untold. Why did her husband shoot the baby?

Aside from my confusion, there is the fact that the mode of narration change is enough to throw your readers for a serious loop. From a beautiful picturesque narrative free of dialogue, we get a gritty scene of pure dialogue.

The dialogue itself reads as contrived. As though you need to tell your reader stuff, so you shove it into the words of the characters. You tell us that: 1) monsters are coming into the barn, 2) the baby is really a doll, 3) Hannah's husband shot her child, 4) Hannah has been deluding herself all the while, and 5) Henry's refusal to leave Hannah to her delusions is going to lead to her death.

For such a short amount of dialogue this is one heck of a lot of information. You have too much plot here for a story this short. You can cut the plot some to try to maintain some of the beauty and irony, or you can extend the story to ensure that the all of these pieces of information are given appropriate attention. The choice is yours, but right now this piece is severely flawed.

I happen to think that the idea of having her in the barn when the monsters come is great, but I don't see what her husband shooting the baby has to do with that, or what Henry's coldness as a character has to do with that. We don't need to be told that Henry caused her death, we can discern that for ourselves.

I had such high hopes for this story, as it started off as one of the best fiction pieces I have read on YWS in a long time. You need to work on the ending though. Rather than the shock and emotion that you want it to deliver, it leaves me feeling like I was just played for a cheap trick.

You are a talented writer. Make your skill count.

Hope this helped.




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Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:24 pm
Flux wrote a review...



Man, Threnody, this was amazing!

I really like the style this was written in -- how the lyrics related to every paragraph (obviously your intention) and how it sounds so real. I truly like how simplistic its written. First it seems just like a scatter-brained impression of everything, like one might expect if they were in a similar situation. But when we reach the end, with the story's lovely little plot twist, we see that its actually just the broken ponderings of a woman who has all but lost her marbles. Just ... to put it mildly ;P

There was a woman in there but don't worry, she's not there anymore. Henry got rid of her for us.

What I love about that line is how it really brings everything into a sort of "focus" -- though, the focus of the narrator is scattered at best. It almost makes things more sinister. Now, obviously you were already foreshadowing it, what with your description of the smoke and ashes floating through the city, but I like how this really brings it together.

I didn't have time to grab your stuffed bunny from your cradle, but I made you a new one. Henry found it in the woods and we ate the stuffing but I got to keep the outside. There's no more blood and I sewed it back up with sawdust. It's starting to smell and fall apart, so I suppose I should get you a new one.

^This really struck a chord. Something about it was so ... ah. I don't even know. At first I was all confused, thinking they actually ate the stuffing ... But then you realize that it was actually a real rabbit.


---
Overall, this was great. As I stated before, I loved the narrative, because there is a detectable something that is wrong with her. I also love how she looks at this so harmlessly, even though it truly is not harmless. All the gore and everything she seemingly skips over, but hints at so wonderfully.

This was really great!




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Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:38 am
Iggy wrote a review...



Hello there!

First off, nice plot twist! I love how it's all in her head. It reminds me of the R.L. Stine story I read, about a girl who's best friend was killed in a car accident, but she believes that her friend wants to steal her body... Anyways! xD I really did like the story. I thought the "baby" was either a dead baby or a zombie; definately didn't see the doll coming.

As for any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors, I didn't find any. Nice!

All in all, good job on the story! But it wasn't really that scary. ;)

- Ariel/Iggy.<3




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Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:36 am
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creativityrules says...



Wow. This is so great. You're an insane writer; this piece is mad in all the right ways. So wonderful!




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Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:46 pm
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silverfin713 wrote a review...



I really love this piece! It has just the right doses of insanity, sickness, cruelty and devestation to really come together into a dark, can't-put-down-even though you're creeped out- sort of feel. What I liked best about the story was the little snippets of a seemingly harmless children's song everyone has heard to contradict with the setting and events for a haunting atmosphere. I also liked how as the reader reached farther into the story the pieces of this main character's story were slowly stitched together. And the ending was just brilliant. Heart-jerking, unexpected (at least to me, anyways) and crazy enough to be realistic. Also, the title fits in really well because it doesn't give anything away, yet when you finish reading and look back at it, it makes perfect sense. Fantastic job, and I hope to hear more from you.




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Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:06 pm
KingLucifer wrote a review...



Hey there is your guy LoyalHeart here with a review for you Thenody.

First off I have to say this a really great, rather uniqueness to it in my opinion since its not something I've seen before. But still its great, it's fairly solid and I continually read thought it and I'm trying to think of what to say in terms of what to improve on. But what from my point of view I'm rather curious if this is supposed to be a flashback or a story of retelling of events or what? This somehow has a feel of a post apocalyptic world to it in the opening, since you had compared snow to ash. But again that's how I felt. Now for more of the story in general.

This seems to be a story with a song to it, to increase the mood to things as you write the story cause like I said it gives a post apocalyptic feel to the story. Now Grammar and punctuation checks out no need to worry, but maybe you could try to include who the main character of it all is. Cause I don't think you say or at least directly anyways but I'm done for now.

So this has been your review from LoyalHeart and I hope you have a great day, later!





Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.
— Jack Sparrow